Do you have selfless faith?
“Paul had an assurance that in-spite of the pain and hardships he would endure in his life on earth, God’s will was best and that alone is what silenced his fears.”
1. Having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc.; unselfish.
The transformation of Saul the Pharisee from persecutor of the church to Paul the apostle is one of the best known stories in the New Testament and definitely one of my favorites! Here’s a little backstory:
Paul was a Jew born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but raised in Jerusalem and educated at the feet of Gamaliel; a well-known teacher of religious law. In his own words Paul states that being “zealous for God” he was responsible for the persecution and imprisonment of many followers of Christ.
One afternoon on his way to Damascus, with a mission to imprison more Christians. Paul who was named Saul at the time had an encounter with God that would not only change his name, but would transform his life and God’s kingdom forever.
“As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me.” Acts: 22:6
It was during that encounter that Paul received his purpose and a new identity:
7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” 8 “who are you, Lord?” I asked. “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. 10 “what shall I do, Lord?” I asked. “Get up,” the Lord said, “and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.” 11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.” Acts 22:7-11
From that moment on Paul determined in his heart that he would follow Christ relentlessly even if it cost him his life. Such sweet surrender!
So many times I’ve heard the story of Saul-Paul and each time I am always humbled and left in awe. This was a man who was living a life so opposed to that which God had called him to, yet by no doing of his own still experienced the glory of God. Oh, what grace! After just one true encounter with God Paul had a major heart change. He became a man who was purposed to go to the ends of the earth to tell others about Jesus and Jesus’ name and renown became his hearts’ only desire. Despite the fact that Paul was warned of the trials and tribulations that were before him, Paul was not shaken. He expressed no fear. His heart had totally been conquered by God and he was willing to lay down his life for the cause of Christ. (ActsÂ 21:10-13)
Paul got it! He understood that it is through much trial and tribulation that we as Christians must enter into the Kingdom of God. Has not our master told us to take up our cross?
Let the will of the Lord be done. – Acts 21:14
Paul understood that God is sovereign. Nothing comes as a surprise to Him and because of that trust, Paul had an assurance that in-spite of the pain and hardships he would endure in his life on earth, God’s will was best and that alone is what silenced his fears.
To me the story of Saul-Paul is a reminder of many things, one being that our identity is not dependent on the external. The titles, statuses and circumstances of this life do not define who we are as Christians. Our identity as followers of Christ is revealed through the life of Jesus. It is through each of us that God’s promises to humanity will be revealed, but it won’t come without surrender. Paul desired to lay down his life because he knew he had a higher purpose, a purpose much bigger than himself. Pauls’ eyes were fixed on Jesus which in turn made all of his external circumstances trivial.
We are called to the same purpose. God wants to use you and I just as he did Paul to expand His Kingdom. We are called to be ambassadors (messengers) for Christ. God wanted Paul to “experience expansion,” and with a heart completely surrendered, he most certainly did. Paul took any opportunity he was given to share with others what Jesus did for him and how his life had been transformed.
It is my prayer that with surrendered hearts we would follow in the footsteps of Paul. That we would take up our cross and lay down our lives. That we would shift our focus from the things of this world and fix our eyes on Christ, dying to ourselves daily and relentlessly pursuing Jesus with a selfless faith.